5 Branding Tips in 15 Minutes

I’m super amp’d in this Podcast, it’s obvious I had my coffee this morning.

These are 5 quick branding tips for anyone with a project, whether you’re a startup, movement or personality.
I had the pleasure of joining Debra Eckerling on her Guided Goals podcast.
It’s quick, it’s high-energy and everyone’s hair looks elegantly aggressive. Join us.

 

P.S.: Like this? Subscribe to the Debra’s podcast because she’s got some great guests on tap!

Overcoming Fear In Your Startup

Poodle Mafia Marketing and Branding for Startups - Babe Ruth

A little departure today from the usual marketing and branding discussion.
Because of our focus on startups, personalities and movements, I find that my role with my client is part strategy and part cheerleader.
So today, I want to share some strategies for overcoming fear.
Actually, overcoming is the wrong word, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

One of the things I encounter a lot with my clients is fear.
At some point, every entrepreneur, every creative, every personality encounters the devil inside.
The devil whispers into your ear and heart and mind, it’s like an ear worm that wiggles its way into your project and creates self doubt.

I’m not a therapist or a life coach, I’m giving this advice because I’ve helped many people through it and most honestly, from a place of “I’ve been there.”
I’ve started 3 businesses in my life, and recently, re-branded the third.
I know fear. I know fear intimately.
I’ve been living and feeding off of fear almost my entire career.
And for the most part, when I’ve harnessed my fear, it’s been my bitch.
That’s not to say I’m never afraid. Oh, no, do NOT misunderstand me.
But fear is so powerfully positive when it’s directed appropriately.
So the advice I give to others on this topic is advice I give myself.

The typical advice is to push that fear down.
Ignore it.
I don’t subscribe to that philosophy at all.
And here’s why:
YOU can use IT.
You don’t need to OVERCOME FEAR, you need to HARNESS FEAR.
Fear can be the thing that propels you through the hardest part of your project.
You can use fear like a shot in the butt.
Fear is the thing that gives you the adrenaline you NEED to stay up late,  get up early, come up with the next best idea.
In fact, I’d go so far to say if you’re not feeling a LITTLE bit of fear, you’re not fully vested.
So why NOT harness the fear and make it a positive as opposed to a negative?

Here are some tips on harnessing fear for different types of fear.

 

Fear of (In)Authenticity

Chances are, as you go through your product or persona, you’ll polish and change it.
Then all of a sudden one day, you’ll wake up and think “Is THIS what I really meant it to be?”
Have I polished and perfected so much that I’m no longer presenting the product as I meant it to be?
When this happens, go through your earliest notes, emails and brainstorms.
Check yourself. See if the process still seems authentic and real as a journey and evolution.
This happens A LOT in marketing and branding. Suddenly, someone is marketing your idea as something totally different than you originally envisioned.
Personalities experience this a lot too. What’s the difference between sharing everything and creating an authentic persona?
You CAN have an authentic voice without giving up your original vision. It IS possible.
Every single project is going to have a pivot point, a path of departure, a choice you made.
Take your pulse here and make sure that the path of departure still seems important and real and helpful.
AND that  the changes you made a long the way were well thought out, strategic and intentional.
If so, then use your fear to reconfirm you’re on the right track. Taking your own pulse once in awhile is a good thing. It’s what KEEPS it real.
If you find that you’ve lost your way, go back and find the point of departure and look at what you can do to reinject your original vision into the plans you have today.
Chances are you’re not as far off the path as you thought you were, but doing the exercise will put you back in touch with your original vision and allow you to reconfirm your original intent.
You’ll find that once you allow yourself to get back in touch with your original intent, then it will be clarifying to you and everyone around you.

 

Fear of Launch

This fear is the one that wakes you up in the middle of the night right before you’re ready to launch and says “YOU’RE NOT READY.”
First of all, let’s face it, a lot of this particular fear is about rejection. “What if I put something out there and no one bites. Or worse, they HATE it.”
Here’s the deal: put your heart and soul into something, stay committed to it and I guarantee you SOMEONE will love it.
That’s not to say that the love doesn’t take work to earn. That’s not to say that the love comes on YOUR timeline.
It is to say, let go of the idea of rejection. You can LEARN from rejection. You can shift, reinvent and accomplish based on rejection.
Rejection is NOT the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.
How can you HARNESS this to make your product launch better?
This is the stage that’s sort of like the night before a big college exam.
If you’ve done ALL the preparation you need to do, then use the fear to zero in on the 1 or 2 areas where you feel weakness, then you can use fear to focus on small, but relevant improvements.
Once you go through those 1 or 2 areas that you’re fearful about, and solve for them, you’ll feel more confident and your launch will be better.

 

Fear of Perfection

This fear is closely related to Fear of Launch, but it’s slightly different.
Here’s the one thing you need to know about Fear of Perfection: use it, abuse it and throw it away.
Nothing in the history of humans has ever reached perfection. Nothing.
If you let perfection dominate your launch and outlook, you’ll be forever paralyzed.
Do the best you can and if you have to touch more than three times, you’re allowing the fear of perfection dominate you.
Three times. That’s it. That’s all you get. Make ’em count.
That’s how you harness this fear.

Fear of Reinvention

This is the fear that says “it’s already been done before.”

I’m super intimate with this fear. I have several projects on the shelf suffering from this as we speak.
But here’s the deal with this fear: it’s total bullshit.
Because no one has done it the way YOU would do it.
Think about authors. If they said “I want to write a mystery novel, but someone’s already written that.” There sure wouldn’t be very much to read would there?
Every single one of us is inspired along the way by products, pieces of art, text, that us and millions of others have seen.
But YOU have a unique way of seeing it. It’s the unique vision, that unique voice that you have to offer.
Your take on the world is singular and interesting and unique.
In fact, chances are, no matter WHAT your building, creating and doing someone else is or has done it.
So sit down and think about your unique perspective. Clear your mind of everyone else’s vision, spend some time on YOUR vision, your voice.
I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again – the ONLY thing unique you have to offer is YOU.
So take a deep breath and use fear to clarify what makes you and your perspective unique.

Harness your fear and make it work for you.
Keep putting one foot in front of another.
One step at a time.
When you fell fear and anxiety creeping in, don’t look at the marathon, look at the next block.
Again, it’s not about overcoming fear, it’s about harnessing it.

I’d really love to hear how you have found ways to harness your fears and make it work for you.
Comment or send me a tweet!

WHY Your Storytelling Isn’t Working

Poodle Mafia Marketing Branding PR for Startups Movements and Personalities

Do you know why people respond (or don’t respond) to you brand storytelling?

The answer doesn’t lie in your typeface, your graphic design or even your social networks.
The answers lies in your strategy and customer clarity.

Let me put it another way: do you know what motivations your customers respond to most powerfully?

Several years ago, I launched a marketing incubator designed to help marketers connect the dots between personality types and motivations. What I learned when I did that was few marketers understood how to trigger basic motivations and even those who did, didn’t really understand why they worked. These were great and successful marketers who were committed to becoming even better. These weren’t lazy marketers, these were great people, good at what they do.

Before I go on, let me explain something: I did not make up these motivations. I am not even the first to write about them. They are ancient and hard-wired into the human experience, in fact, these motivations reside in the largest part of our brain, what I call “the other 90%.” Simply put, these motivations are not some flash-in-the-pan-do-whats-trendy-now strategy, these are strategies which trigger reactions from the oldest part of our brain.  Over the last few years, more and more has been understood about these motivations. But one thing is clear: despite the fact that these motivations developed in the earliest days of humanity’s survival of the fittest experiences, these motivations are very much alive and well today. What triggers them in the modern world is just different than what triggered them in our earliest evolutionary days.

So over the next weeks, I’m going to write a series about the seven Captivation Motivations all marketers should know. But not just marketers, product development, developers and anyone else who’s trying to trigger an immediate and memorable reaction.

The first Captivation Motivation I’m going to cover is so over-discussed and yet misunderstood, I wanted to get it out of the way: Storytelling

It’s important to understand WHY storytelling works and as importantly, what stories trigger us to buy.

If you take nothing else away from this blog post, understand this:

People buy for two reasons: it either reinforces how they see themselves or it reinforces how they want to be seen. (Tweet This)

In essence, every purchase we make is part of our story and we know this, deep, deep down.

What stories do we like to listen to?
Stories about us.
Stories that make us feel smarter, better, part of something.
Stories that reinforce how we see ourselves or reinforce how we want to be seen.

Why is this? It’s because the biggest part of our brain is focused on, you guessed it, us.
This is why brand stories have to be very carefully crafted.
As marketers, we want to tell the brand story, but the reader wants to read a story about them.
This disconnect is HUGE.
And yet, we see excellent examples of great brand story telling all the time. Simplistic and elegant and purely captivating.
One of my favorite examples is Coca-Cola. They kicked off their brand story telling years ago with “I’d like to teach the world to sing…” So celebrated and so ingrained in our culture, that it was the final episode of Mad Men and suggested as the career pinnacle of outrageously creative Don Draper.
Coca-Cola continues to tell it’s story through it’s consumers. Think about the soda bottles wrapped in names and now adjectives like “VIP” “Latino” “Super Star.” Every single on of these is designed to tap into how we see ourselves or how we WANT to see ourselves. You can even buy your own personalized bottle. When this first released and still today, it created a ton of user generated content on social. People loved taking pictures of themselves with bottles that told their story. Reinforced their place in the world.
You never once see Coca-Cola telling some long drawn out boring-as-all-hell story about what goes INTO the bottle, or who works in marketing at Coca-Cola, no. The story is always about the consumer and the story or movement they want to create. There is connection, not disconnect. You are Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola is you.
The reason Coca-Cola’s brand value is somewhere in the neighborhood of 45% of the company’s value is because the brand “gets”  the consumer, not the other way around. (Tweet This)
Apple is another great brand, although I personally feel they’ve lost their brand-way a bit. Still, the company is one of the most valuable brands in the world, regularly commanding a premium for technology that has been commoditized. Why? Because the brand had complete and total clarity from beginning. It didn’t make computers, it designed products to enhance our lives. They key word was design. Elegance, simplicity, easy integration into our lives. If Apple hadn’t insisted on these brand traits, it would just be another computer and laptop company. But again, these brand traits, they were customer-focused. They weren’t about Apple, they were about the user. And Apple has some crazy brand advocates who feel like owning Apple helps define who they are. Owning Apple helps them tell the world who they are. That is the pinnacle of advocacy and brand storytelling.

So when you start to integrate story telling into your digital brand strategy, ask yourself three questions:

Who is the story REALLY about? (hint: be honest with yourself here)
How does it reinforce my customer’s image of themselves or the way they want the world to see them?
What emotion will they feel after finishing the story?